5 EASY End of the Year Technology Activities

29 May 2016 / 2 comments

5 EASY End of the Year Technology Activities

Do you need some E-A-S-Y techie activities to help wrap up the end of the year? Here are 5 quick projects you can carry out with your students as they reflect on the MEMORIES they made this past year.
Have students create memory posters using the free website PosterMyWall. You do not have to login! Click "Start New" and begin creating with all of the fun and colorful backgrounds, clipart, word art and fun fonts that are provided. I like for the kids to start from a blank poster instead of choosing a template. The interface is super easy to use and very intuitive. You can even upload your own pictures!

Use the free website, PosterMyWall, to create end of the year memory posters.

A few years ago I saw the CUTEST idea on Pinterest. I wish I could give credit to the original creator but I saw it in so many different forms. Simply take pictures of students holding their arm out as if they are holding a balloon and "flying away". Print and have them cut out their bodies. They can attach a paper balloon with a string. Some people have had the pictures hold 3 balloons with a prefix, root word and suffix written in the middle of each balloon. Other projects I have seen involved students writing a small paragraph inside of the balloon. Why not involve a little technology and have your students record themselves reading a paragraph they write about "Soaring into __Grade" and share one of their favorite memories from this past year? Turn their recording into a QR code to paste inside of the balloon.

Create QR code voice recordings about "Soaring into ___ Grade"

Using the website Vocaroo, students can create their audio QR code in a matter of minutes. The simple interface makes this tool a breeze to use, even for kindergartners! All students have to do is click the red record button, read their paragraph and press stop. They press "Click here to save" when finished:
Next, click QR Code:

BOOM! Their QR Code appears on their screen for them to print. Have them cut out their QR code and paste it to their balloon. This makes a cute, interactive bulletin board :)

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane with this Google Slides presentation. This FREE resource makes for a fun end of the year writing activity. Using the directions provided, students will take a selfie, crop to a circular shape and add their face to the car on the cover page. They will advance to the other three slides and write their favorite memory from the beginning of the year, middle of the year and end of the year. At the bottom of each slide are directions that indicate how they can use the search feature within Google Slides to find copyright free pictures to add to their slides that match their sentence(s). Afterwards, have your students practice their public speaking skills as they present their slideshow to the class. Send the link home to parents to view and/or embed on your class blog or website!
FREE End of the Year Google Slideshow: Take a Trip Down Memory Lane
Click the image to take you to this download

If you have taken a bunch of pictures throughout the school year then I highly recommend you letting your students create their own Mixbook Scrapbook. Students can express their creativity on the computer individually or in pairs, pick their own templates and use all of the pictures to recap their wonderful school year. Parents have the option of buying these scrapbooks. There is also an option to grab an embed code and publish them online for FREE! Students can create accounts or you could have them all sign into one account for easy management.

Have students use Mixbook.com to create memory books about their year

Have your students create Compliment Word Clouds using the website Tagxedo. Students can scoot around to each others' computers and type one describing word about that person in the text box. I always have to establish a few ground rules for this:

  • Compliments are intended to be KIND words. Words such as "shy, ugly, loud, etc." may be hurtful so do not type anything that could be perceived as negative.
  • Tap the space bar ONE time after you have typed your word so the next person to visit the computer can start typing their word.
  • No repeats! You need to read through the words before adding your own. It will get more challenging as you visit computers that already have a bunch of describing words typed in.

Afterwards, students return to their own computer to check out all of the compliments they received from their classmates. They can choose what shape they want their word cloud to be and print. Now they have a special keepsake to take home and share with their parents!

Have fun wrapping up the end of the year with your students!


5 Tips for Facilitating Student Created Math Games

25 May 2016 / Leave a Comment
Student Created Math Games End of the Year
Adobe Stock

Are you looking for a fun end of the year math activity? This week my students have LOVED creating their own math games. Creating their own games encourages higher order thinking, problem solving, team building, and creativity.  I'm going to offer you a few tips I have learned from this experience.

Dollar tree supplies for student created math games

My students were excited to learn they would have the opportunity to create their own math games to review math standards we learned this year.  But that excitement peaked when I showed them  the Dollar Tree finds I purchased for them to use.  Note cards are a must for creating playing cards, and 200 cards for $1.00 meant I didn't need to worry when cards needed to be redone ...and redone!  I purchased a variety of stickers for game board decoration, and mini erasers for game playing pieces. Honestly, the spinners just didn't work well for us, so I was glad I had some from a math kit that spun easier.  The balls were in case they wanted to get creative and create a basketball type game.  Everyone will be a winner with a special pencil.  You can't tell, but these items are placed on white bulletin board paper, which we used to create our game boards.

Game board examples for student created math games

After putting my students into teams, I showed them LOTS of examples.  I pulled out our Candy Land Board Game, and pulled up Google Images to show tons of examples.  We discussed how there was a theme, bright colors, a designated path, etc.  This helped when they planned their own games. Although the stickers were going to be used...even if they didn't match their game's theme!  It was interesting to note that one of the teams really had a struggle creating a game that had a clear path.  I think this reflects their lack of background playing games.  It was enlightening for me to see the problem solving and struggle going on even with the simple task of planning their game.

Narrow math standards down when students create their own math games.

Initially I planned for my students to spiral review several standards within one domain, as they planned, created, and played their math games. Big mistake!  This is really a huge undertaking for inexperienced game creators.  Even though my second graders are ready for third grade next year, developmentally they could only focus on one standard.  Once I narrowed down their focus, and again provided examples of the kinds of questions they could create, they were off and running.  A good rule to remember is "simple is best!"

Preplanning for student created math games

My students planned out the theme, type of game, materials they would need, and any additional notes, prior to starting their game boards.  This led to productive talk and kept them focused on the task.

Drawing math game boards on white boards

They worked together to plan their game boards on paper or white boards using dry erase markers. Again, this promoted collaboration and engagement.

Creating math game boards on bulletin board paper

Finally they worked together to put their masterpieces on paper.  I supplied white bulletin board paper which gave them plenty of room to think and create.

Integrate technology using a word processor for word problems

 We integrated technology by using a word processor to type and edit our word problems.  I might be able to read their writing, but I didn't want it to hinder other students once we started playing the games.  This allowed me to work with individuals on spelling, grammar, and asking math questions. Later students cut the text apart and glued it on note cards.

Completed math game board, cards, and answer key

 Notice the stickers everywhere!  Students have completed their game boards, made their question cards, and started working on creating an answer sheet.  After they do a trial run playing their own game, I will mix up teams, so that one initial team member remains at each game station to coach others as they play.  This way everyone can play each game and there will be a "standard expert" at each game as well.

Storage for student created math games.

I quickly found out it was in my best interest to have individual storage containers for each team as they worked on creating their games this past week.  I put out containers and teams choose what worked best for them.

Dollar Tree magnetic tins

I'm loving these magnetic tins I discovered at the Dollar Tree.  They are perfect for holding game pieces.  We just put them up on the whiteboard each time we are done!

 This was a great end of the year activity for my students.  They were highly engaged during the entire process.  In addition to delving deeper into the standards, we learned problem solving and team building skills.  I hope you found some of these tips useful!


How To Use Personal Artifacts To Spark Inquiry In The Classroom

23 May 2016 / 1 comment
Are you looking for a creative way to build Inquiry into your classroom? This activity sparks lots of fun inquiry while building on inferencing skills, making connections, and focusing on different ways personal histories can be told.

Are you looking for a creative way to build Inquiry into your classroom? This activity sparks lots of fun inquiry while building on inferencing skills, making connections, and focusing on different ways personal histories can be told. It's a great introduction to biographies too!

First, you need to find 5-7 personal artifacts that tell a story about you.  You want to pick items that don't automatically reveal that they belong to you.  It might be a good idea to pick one or two that HINT that they might be yours.  This activity is even more fun if you pick older items that students might not have seen before. Sadly, cassette tapes, slide film, and many items I do not consider all that old fall into this category!

My students sit in table groups so I place one artifact on each table and give students a paper to record questions.  I tell them to write down anything they wonder about the object. After about five minutes, I rotate the artifacts giving each group a chance to observe and record observations and questions on each item. Then we share out our questions and write them all on the board.

At no point I have I indicated these are mine, but slowly several students do begin to feel confident that they belong to me.  Before I reveal anything, I lead a discussion about what we think we know about the person these items belong too?  We try to determine what story they tell.

You can reveal that same day, or wait till the following day and let your students ponder a bit more. For my reveal, I post a picture of my artifacts on the screen and then read aloud the story of my artifacts.  My story describes why each of these items is important to me, what memories they hold, and what you can learn about me from observing them and knowing that I value them.

Students are then tasked to go home and choose 5-7 artifacts that they value and that tell part of their personal history.  They are instructed to choose items that do NOT reveal who they are.  Rather than bring the items to school, I ask them to arrange them in a display and take a photograph to e-mail to me. This insures that nobody knows who the artifact pictures belong to.
Spark inquiry in the classroom with this interactive bulletin board.

Now the fun begins! I print out each photo in color for our interactive class bulletin board. I display each photo and number each photo on the board. Remind your students not to make comments, point, or reveal in anyway which photo might belong to them or it will spoil all the fun!  Students are given a recording sheet and I allow time for students to observe the photos in small groups, and try to see if they can match the photos to their classmates.  Students love trying to solve the mystery.

As a part of this inquiry I give each student a copy of another classmates photo and I ask them to write the story they think these artifacts tell. They also make a prediction of who they belong to.
Click to Download Freebie

For our big reveal, I put together a Power Point slideshow of all the photos, and then using the fabulous drumroll sound effect, the slide transitions to reveal the name of the person the artifacts belong to.

Finally, the students write and share their own story revealing the meaning behind each of their artifacts, why they are important, and what we can learn about them from their artifacts.

This activity makes a great jumping off point for all kinds of studies. We have used it lead us into learning about and reading biographies, studying artifacts from other cultures and how they can help us to learn and understand the past, making connections to family histories, and all sorts of things!

The inspiration for this activity came from a lesson on Lincoln's Pockets from the Library of Congress. I also use photos of Lincoln's artifacts to spark additional inquiry in our classroom. Be sure to check it out!


Understanding Addition With A Graphic Organizer

19 May 2016 / 2 comments

Do you have students who struggle to understand the concept of addition? Are your students visual learners who need help with organization? This easy to make graphic will help students fully understand the concept of adding two sets together.


Career Poster Project Using Technology

15 May 2016 / 1 comment
Integrate technology with this Take Your Child to Work Day / Career Day poster project.  Free download at the link!

Do your students participate in Take Your Child to Work Day or does your school host a Career Day? I am sharing a fun poster product using technology with a free download.  Keep reading to find out how we safely research online, make our posters, and create a digital picture of students' future careers!

Take your child to work day falls on the third Thursday of April and each year I seem to have about half of my class opt to attend work with a parent and about half come to school.  I wanted to make sure the students in school had something meaningful to do, but I also did not want to move the curriculum along when so many students were absent.

Career Day Poster Project Overview

The last few years I have done a technology project for the students in school and out of school focusing on careers.

Integrate technology with this Take Your Child to Work Day / Career Day poster project.  Free download at the link!

If your area does not "celebrate" Take Your Child to Work Day, this technology project will also work for any career day, community helper unit, or even a beginning of the year "Hopes & Dreams" lesson for those of you that follow the Responsive Classroom.

Set Up the Career Day Project 

To set up, I printed a set of bodies for students to write their information on and decorate.  Click here to download the pdf for free.

Integrate technology with this Take Your Child to Work Day / Career Day poster project.  Free download at the link!

I printed these large across two pages using the Adobe .pdf printing settings I explain in my blog here.  I taped the pages together so everyone had one large body.

Research Careers

Next, students selected a career they were interested in and wrote the name of the job inside the head. Students that went with parents had the option of choosing the career they "did" for the day.

Students used KidRex to search safetly.
Integrate technology with this Take Your Child to Work Day / Career Day poster project.  Free download at the link!

I recommend having students type the word "job" or "career" after their search term to narrow it a bit. I also always have my students select from the top five results that pop up as they are going to be the most relevant and cuts down on scrolling.

Integrate technology with this Take Your Child to Work Day / Career Day poster project.  Free download at the link!

Students wrote facts around the outside of the body that they learned.  They had to find the training, schooling, day-to-day responsibilities, skills, and any fun facts about that particular job.

Integrate technology with this Take Your Child to Work Day / Career Day poster project.  Free download at the link!

Make the Career Poster

Students then colored the body to reflect the uniform or everyday attire of someone in that career.

Integrate technology with this Take Your Child to Work Day / Career Day poster project.  Free download at the link!

As an added extra, this year we used PicCollage on the iPads to make a mock-up of each student being that job!  I got this idea from the fabulous Teaching with Appitude's Instagram account.  She also has a sample on Facebook here.

Integrate technology with this Take Your Child to Work Day / Career Day poster project.  Free download at the link!

We used the in-app image search to find a picture of the career.  Then we took a selfie in the app and trimmed around the head and popped it on the body.

Make a QR Code to Display Career Posters

I had students upload their finished images to Google Drive where I quickly made a QR code of each image using the process explained here.

Integrate technology with this Take Your Child to Work Day / Career Day poster project.  Free download at the link!

I taped the QR code to the bottom of each poster and hung them in the hall.  Visitors can scan the QR code to see a picture of "from the future" of each of my students doing the job they researched!

Swing by my blog or catch my weekly live show on Facebook (Mondays at 8 P.M. EST) for more technology integration ideas!

How To Host An End-of-the-Year "Pick"-Nic!

14 May 2016 / Leave a Comment

Make some great group memories and provide a  "pick-nic" of  activities for students to choose from as your school year draws to a close!  Students will stay interested and engaged given a choice of hands-on learning activities.

Are you wondering how to keep your primary students engaged during the last days of your school year?  Do you want to make some lasting memories with your class?  Then plan to provide a daily "pick"-nic of learning privileges for them to choose from!  Offering a choice of tasks they must or may do will keep them on target and on task!

How To Monitor What Your Students Understand...

11 May 2016 / Leave a Comment

Have you been in the middle of what you think is a brilliant lesson and then, all of the sudden, you see glazed eyes staring back at you? Most of the time when I see the glazed over look, I know there is something up.  I know I'd better start monitoring my students' understanding.


When you monitor understanding, you are formatively assessing what students have "gotten" from the lesson.  We teachers need that information to modify our instruction, to clarify expectations, or even build on student strengths and weaknesses.  Students need that time of metacognition to help them grow from making mistakes and errors.

If you're like me, you're always looking for new ways to get my kids excited about things, even for checks for understanding. Which of these are you already doing?  Do you have any other fun and engaging ideas?  I'd love to see your responses below.

 This is one of my favorite ways to monitor!  It also works really well for students who need that extra reminder to write their name on their paper!
Green=  I totally get this!
Yellow= I understand somewhat.  
Red=  I'm lost. Help!
If your kids are kinesthetic learners, this activity is perfect!  Assign levels of understanding to each corner of the room.  Allow students to move free and change their position when they begin to feel more comfortable with the lesson.  Some teachers like to use numbers and letters. This can also be a fantastic way to assign partners for differentiation.  

Students have 3 different colored plastic cups on their that are upside down. While the cups are stacked, whichever cup is on the outside represents their level of understanding. It's very similar to the coystem of highlighter coding system mentioned above:

Green=  I know tons about this!
Yellow= I know a little about this.  
Red=  I have no idea what this is.

  At the beginning of the lesson, have students rate their understanding.
  Later do it again, but watch the students change their cups (hopefully) as they reflect on the change in their understanding.  It's amazing to see the colors shift!
 This is a tried and true method.  Both signals are pretty self explanatory, and can get boring half-way through the year.  In order to make learning more fun,  you could change up the two choices for responding to a check for understanding.  For example:  Stand & Sit Down.  It's very similar to thumbs up/down, but gets the whole body moving.

 Entrance and Exit Tickets are like gold mines when comes to monitoring my students' understanding.  When students complete one, a brief snapshot emerges of what they know.  With an entrance ticket, you can modify questioning and later activities on the fly. With an exit ticket, the students have more exposure so they have more opportunities to show mastery.  
 This system is on of my favorite ways to monitor.  This system comes in handy because it helps determine how the student could be working for the class period. This is very helpful when it comes to differentiation and scaffolding.

3 fingers=  I got it and can teach a friend.
2 fingers=  I got it and can work independently.  
1 finger=  I don't really get it and I need a coach to help me get started.

Which of these are you already doing?  Have another method you've tried or experimented with?  I'd love to see your responses below.
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